Nosebleeds that result in death are more often seen in connection with specific health conditions. Researchers from an early 1961 article published in California Medicine note how potentially fatal cases of epistaxis have been associated with recent head trauma, vascular tumors in the nasal cavity, or severe arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease (or heart disease that occurs due to hardening of the arteries), per Mayo Clinic.
Older adults may be more susceptible to potentially fatal posterior nosebleeds as they are more likely to be diagnosed with various health conditions. In a 2015 case report published in Federal Practitioner, researchers outlined the case of a veteran man in his mid-60s who was hospitalized after experiencing an on-and-off nose bleed over the course of 24 hours. The man was thought to have lost approximately 1 cup of blood throughout the day. His cause of death was attributed to stimulation of the body’s trigeminocardiac reflex (TCR) that occurred following the medical intervention of nasal packing to stop the bleeding. This bodily reflex involves abrupt changes in numerous functions, including heart rate and blood pressure, in response to activation of the trigeminal nerve (via Frontiers in Neurology), a branch of which extends to facial areas including the nose (via Cleveland Clinic). As a result, the researchers emphasized the importance of exercising caution when treating older adults for posterior epistaxis.